phone usage challenge update: on habits

i realized that i never really explained why i want to look at my phone less.

once you finish this article, go outside and ride the subway. stare at people. how many are on their smartphones, and what are they doing?

if they’re reading the news, wow. smile at him/her. however, more likely, they are scrolling on insta, fb, messaging people, sending stickers, and tapping on dots (AKA playing a game). point is, i realized how much time everyone wastes on a daily basis. i use a phone usage tracker app called Moment and realized that i spend at least an hour on my phone everyday.

sometimes, it’s okay. i mean being active on social media really isn’t that bad - we live in the modern age anyways, but being on it so much that it consumes most of our free time is not healthy. it’s also bad for our eyes and neck (i’m nineteen and i have neck pains, wtf).

granted, there are still people who use their phones productively - people who read finance news (like my bf lol), occasionally message, and manage their bank accounts etc. and that’s good. if you are like this, my goal may not be suitable for you.

however, i’m not. i waste a shit load of time. every time i open my phone, i automatically check insta, snapchat, wechat, facebook and repeat. it’s gotten so automated that i don’t realize it. and that’s scary.

my main problem then, perhaps isn’t using my phone so much as not using it productively. my bad habit is instantly going onto social media apps. if instead, i can convert myself to open my phone and check seeking alpha (stock news app), or quartz (another news app), then perhaps using more than 1h everyday is reasonable.

my use for the past week:

mother of god, right.

we can often set the wrong goals so it’s important to step back often, re-evaluate yourself, and pivot. figure out what was wrong. was your goal unreasonable, were there other unavoidable obstacles that hindered you? and find ways to make it easier to achieve it.

in my case, i’m going to try again along with some tweaks.

my new goal will be to 1. to not use my phone in the morning (i typically scroll for like 20 min in bed) 2. to put my phone away during weekends or even shut it off during the day when i’m out 3. don’t go on ig unless i’m posting. instead, check news apps such as quartz or even quora.

here are the 3 R’s of creating a habit:

1. reminder (cue/trigger)

basically, you need a sign that triggers you to start the habit. ex. if you want to run everyday, then placing our sneakers and running outfit out would trigger you to run. ex. if you want to not eat snacks in the afternoon (like me), then hide your temptations (snacks), and bring in a new trigger/replacement (fruit). 

in my case, since i don’t want to use my phone, then i’ll first have to put my phone away. my trigger would be to put another equally alluring thing next to me when i first wake up and find another way to set an alarm. tomorrow morning, i'll begin by telling my grandpa to wake me up instead (lol), writing my goal IN PAPER and plastering it on the wall, AND placing a desirable kindle next to me.

(okay, a kindle doesn’t provide as much instant gratification as the iPhone does, but well, i gotta grow up and stop being such a millennial, right.)

before i reach for my phone, i will also ask myself what the purpose of it is. do i need to check the news, take a photo, or take a screenshot of something? if so, then i will complete that task and shut it. if the reason is just because i’m bored, then i will shut it off.

however, i will still allow myself to go on "shit apps" (AKA snapchat, ig) twice a day. cause it’s unreasonable (and hard) to completely eliminate social media from your life.

social media apps are killing me.

social media apps are killing me.

2. routine (habit)

this is simply something you want to do probably everyday and achieve.

i want to not look at my phone in the morning, plus in other moments. however, herein lies the problem: i didn’t specify what “other moments” i’m talking about. i’ve had the worst phone usage when i’m shopping and eating alone during weekends (this month). i used up to five hours one day. five hours. what the fuck was i doing?

to prevent these long free hours during weekends when i don’t know what to do, i should schedule everything i want to do ahead of time, including where i want to go.

different from last time, i am also going to physically write down reflections everyday, since i will need qualitative observations. i need to keep track of which apps i used.

3. reward

i actually didn’t think about this till now, when i had to re-evaluate myself (see, that’s why it’s good to reflect). my reward would be buying these beautiful oxford shoes from muji ❤️.

but i realized that's not enough as a reward. i must emphasize that going on social media makes me sad. after twenty minutes, i don't feel any pride from success (成就感 ) because i simply haven't done anything except mindlessly stare at pictures/videos. instead i feel guilt (罪恶感). SO, by getting rid of this bad habit, i will be happier and no longer feel guilt. 

however, just in case, i will also allow myself one "cheat" day where i go over two hours on my phone. this is to ensure i can keep this habit in the long term. 

hope you guys are doing well too! expect a post from me in a week.


(photo credit 1) (other photo) (photo credit)